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Here’s how to make the best, easiest, most consistent old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd. Make-ahead friendly, perfect for holidays.

a plate with stuffing, gravy, and old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd
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Why we love this recipe

Mashed potatoes are one of those deceptively simple dishes that can also somehow become laden with stress and strong opinions. Maybe it’s because many of us only make them a few times a year, while hungry people wait.

But things definitely don’t have to be that way. Here’s how to make old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd really, really well every time, without the stress and uncertainty.

This recipe:

  • Makes a whole lot of creamy, flavorful mashed potatoes
  • Holds and reheats brilliantly, so you can send your guests home with some and have leftovers throughout the week
  • Halves easily, if you’d rather make a more demure quantity
  • Works perfectly with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner

Looking for a smaller batch? Here you go.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. With so few ingredients, it’s a good idea to seek out the best ones you can find.

ingredients in bowls
  • Yukon Gold potatoes or a similar gold-fleshed potato variety are basically nonnegotiable. They’re so cooperative that they take the stress out of the process. Yukon Golds have just the right ratio of creaminess to waxiness to starch to yield unfussy mashed potatoes that everyone will love.
  • At the risk of getting a little crazy on you here, if you have a water filter, use filtered water to make your mashed potatoes. For consistency of both taste and tenderness, it removes some of the randomness from your water supply. If this isn’t an easy option, don’t worry about it — but just sayin.
  • Really for every purpose, and especially in mashed potatoes, it’s worth seeking out a really delicious butter. So much of the industrial butter in. the U.S. is white and bland. We love Kerrygold salted butter, which comes from grass-fed cows and is cultured, both of which contribute so much deliciousness that you’ll never go back. Plus, it doesn’t come with a high price tag.
  • Whole milk gives mashed potatoes just the right consistency, so I like to use a good organic whole milk rather than a lower-fat version. This isn’t just about liquid: the fat in whole milk helps prevent the starch in the potatoes from getting gummy. (This is mostly butter’s job, but whole milk plays a supporting role.) As for nondairy milks, while I love them dearly for everyday use, mashed potatoes aren’t really the place for them taste- or texture-wise. If you want or need a rockin nondairy mashed potatoes recipe, try this one.
  • Fine sea salt and good old freshly ground black pepper will yield the perfect mashed potatoes everyone’s expecting. White pepper is invisible but has a very different taste from black pepper, so it’s up to you whether to use it. I don’t.

You don’t need a lot of equipment to make mashed potatoes for a crowd, but the right tools really help you get consistently good results. Here’s what I like to use.

  • A really big pot. Ten pounds of potatoes is a lot, my friend. I use my favorite Dutch oven — a 9-quart Le Creuset. I won’t lie: it’s extremely expensive and equally heavy, and the potatoes just barely fit. For boiling a bunch of potatoes, the heaviness of the pot doesn’t matter much, but the cast iron does help to keep mashed potatoes warm while you finish up preparing dinner. If you have a very large stock pot, that’s a good choice, too. If you don’t have a pot this big, you can make the potatoes in two separate pots, dividing everything in half as you go. And if you don’t actually need an army’s worth of potatoes, this recipe also halves beautifully. 
  • Food mill, potato ricer, or potato masher. I own a good old food mill due to my homemade applesauce habit. This is a great tool for magically turning potato chunks into dreamy little potato wisps without making them gluey at all. Sometimes I use my food mill, and sometimes I just go at it with my trusty potato masher. You’ll get great results either way. Both tools are simple and rustic and don’t overcomplicate the method or over-activate the starchiness of the potatoes. I don’t own a ricer, but if you do, same goes for that tool. It’s a great choice.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make great old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place into a well-salted pot of cold water.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Mash the potatoes until smooth.
  3. Heat the milk and butter together until almost boiling.
  4. Pour milk mixture into potatoes and add the salt and pepper. Stir together until creamy. That’s it!
yukon gold mashed potatoes from a small batch on a plate with stuffing and gravy

Expert tips and FAQs

  • Cut potatoes into one-inch chunks. You’ll hear all sorts of strong opinions about what size to cut your potatoes before boiling, if you cut them at all. I work with smaller chunks so they cook evenly and quickly and become infused with delicious salted water. It doesn’t waterlog the potatoes unless you way overcook them. The end.
  • Start with cold, seriously well-salted water. Starting the cooking process with cold water ensures the potatoes cook evenly all the way through. Use the full two tablespoons of salt (true fact: sometimes I use even more). It infuses the potatoes with flavor from the inside out.
  • Boil until tender but not waterlogged. When ready to drain, potatoes should take the tines of a fork easily and without resistance, but don’t boil them longer than that. Start testing them early and drain as soon as they reach this point.
  • Drain well and return to the hot pot. At this stage, extra water is not your friend. Drain potatoes well in a big colander, shaking off any excess water, and return potatoes to the hot pot (off the heat) for a couple of minutes to dry them out a bit more.
  • Mash using a food mill, ricer, or masher. Mashing the potatoes on their own with one of these simple tools, before adding fat and liquid, gets them lump-free without complicating matters.
  • Stir in butter and whole milk together, slow-ish-ly. You might have heard that you need to stir in the butter first, but I don’t find this makes a bit of difference. Why add an extra step? It does pay to pour and stir in the buttery milk a bit at a time, to give the potatoes a chance to absorb them.
  • Season generously. Taste for seasoning, and don’t be afraid to generously salt and pepper mashed potatoes. Think about what else you’re serving and make sure the potatoes are seasoned as plentifully as the rest of the meal.
  • Do not be afraid to let potatoes sit. The potatoes’ starch will relax a bit as mashed potatoes sit, and this is a perfectly good thing. If you’ve used a heavy pot, you can pop a lid on it and expect the potatoes to stay hot for quite a while as you finish up other tasks. If not, you can easily reheat mashed potatoes in the microwave. I love my good old CorningWare lidded casserole for this purpose, but really any microwave-safe serving bowl will do.
Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Yes yes yes. Mashed potatoes made this way do beautifully made up to a few days in advance, and as leftovers kept for up to a week. Once cooled, simply store in an airtight container in the fridge, then reheat in batches in the microwave, stirring every few minutes to distribute the heat.

You can even freeze them for up to a year, either in large quantities or portioned using an ice cream scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and transferred to a zip-top freezer bag once frozen solid. Defrost in the fridge and reheat per the instructions above.

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a plate with stuffing, gravy, and old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd

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a plate with stuffing, gravy, and old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd
4.94 from 15 votes

Old Fashioned Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Here's how to make the best, easiest, most consistent old fashioned mashed potatoes for a crowd. Make-ahead friendly, perfect for holidays. It's easy, I promise — just be sure to follow all the tips in the FAQ section of the post for the absolute best results.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
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Ingredients 

  • 10 pounds 4.5 kilograms Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 16 tablespoons (224 grams) (2 sticks) really good salted, cultured butter
  • 2 ½ cups (591 ml) whole milk
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Fill a very large pot halfway with cold water and two tablespoons of fine sea salt.
  • Place potato pieces into the pot as you peel and chop them.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain potatoes in a colander.
  • Heat the butter and milk together in a small pot over medium-low heat until butter is melted.
  • Either press the potatoes through a ricer or food mill back into the pot, or return them to the pot straightaway and use a masher to mash them until smooth.
  • Pour in hot buttery milk in a slow stream, stirring to incorporate.
  • Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Don't be shy with the seasoning.

Notes

  1. Yukon Gold potatoes or a similar gold-fleshed potato variety are basically nonnegotiable. They're so cooperative that they take the stress out of the process. Yukon Golds have just the right ratio of creaminess to waxiness to starch to yield unfussy mashed potatoes that everyone will love.
  2. At the risk of getting a little crazy on you here, if you have a water filter, use filtered water to make your mashed potatoes. For consistency of both taste and tenderness, it removes some of the randomness from your water supply. If this isn't an easy option, don't worry about it — but just sayin.
  3. Really for every purpose, and especially in mashed potatoes, it's worth seeking out a really delicious butter. So much of the industrial butter in. the U.S. is white and bland. We love Kerrygold salted butter, which comes from grass-fed cows and is cultured, both of which contribute so much deliciousness that you'll never go back. Plus, it doesn't come with a high price tag.
  4. Whole milk gives mashed potatoes just the right consistency, so I like to use a good organic whole milk rather than a lower-fat version. This isn't just about liquid: the fat in whole milk helps prevent the starch in the potatoes from getting gummy. (This is mostly butter's job, but whole milk plays a supporting role.) As for nondairy milks, mashed potatoes aren't really the place for them taste- or texture-wise. If you want or need a rockin nondairy mashed potatoes recipe, try this one.
  5. Fine sea salt and good old freshly ground black pepper will yield the perfect mashed potatoes everyone's expecting. White pepper is invisible but has a very different taste from black pepper, so it's up to you whether to use it. I don't.
  6. Mashed potatoes made this way do beautifully made up to a few days in advance, and as leftovers kept for up to a week. Once cooled, simply store in an airtight container in the fridge, then reheat in batches in the microwave, stirring every few minutes to distribute the heat.
  7. You can even freeze them for up to a year, either in large quantities or portioned using an ice cream scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and transferred to a zip-top freezer bag once frozen solid. Defrost in the fridge and reheat per the instructions above.
  8. Protip: If your mashed potato leftovers outpace your gravy leftovers, make our vegetarian gravy to go with the rest. Believe it or not, you'll be in the company of thousands of people doing just that in the days after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Nutrition

Calories: 343kcal, Carbohydrates: 51.4g, Protein: 7.1g, Fat: 13g, Fiber: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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